Jacinda Ardern has announced she is stepping down as New Zealand’s prime minister, admitting she no longer has “enough in the tank” to continue in the role.
The 42-year-old center-left politician, who has served as prime minister since October 2017, said she will step down by February 7 during her announcement on Wednesday.
The Labour Party, which Ardern currently leads, is due to select her replacement on Sunday.
A general election is scheduled to take place on October 14, with polling suggesting the Labour Party could struggle to retain New Zealand’s premiership.
Ardern, New Zealand’s third female prime minister, oversaw a turbulent period in the country, which included the March 2019 Christchurch Mosque shootings that left 51 people dead, and the coronavirus pandemic, during which New Zealand largely sealed its borders with the outside world.
Newsweek has summarized the six most talked about moments from Ardern’s time in office.
2019 Christchurch Terrorist Attack
On March 15, 2019, a far-right terrorist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, killing 51 Muslim worshippers and injuring another 40.
Ardern described the attacks as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” and refused to use the shooter’s name to avoid increasing his “notoriety.” Speaking in parliament, she said: “He sought many things from this act of terror, but one was notoriety, and that is why you will never hear me mention his name.”
Following the massacre Ardern pushed strict new gun control measures through Parliament, banning short semi-automatic rifles, introducing a new firearms registry and tightening the law on gun sales.
In May 2022 Ardern explained her policy during an appearance on CBS‘s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
She said: “We are a very pragmatic people, when we saw something like that everybody said ‘never again,’ and then it was incumbent on us as politicians to respond to that.”
Tough Coronavirus Restrictions
When COVID-19 started spreading around the globe in early 2020, Ardern introduced some of the world’s toughest restrictions, largely keeping the disease out of New Zealand until the end of 2021.
On March 19 New Zealand announced it was banning all non-residents from entering the country, with anyone allowed in required to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.
Mask-wearing remained compulsory in public places until September 2022, with New Zealand also imposing a vaccine mandate for inbound travelers and some key professions, such as police officers and the military.
Speaking on September 12, 2022, as she announced an end to mask and vaccine mandates, Ardern said: “Finally, rather than feeling that COVID dictates what happens to us, our lives, and our futures, we take back control.
“For the first time in two years we can approach summer with the much-needed certainty New Zealanders and business need, helping to drive greater economic activity critical to our economic recovery.”
Ardern policies were praised for mostly keeping coronavirus out of New Zealand during 2020 and 2021, but came under fire from some civil liberty campaigners because of their impact on individual rights.
Spoke to Reporter Who Couldn’t Pronounce Her Name
In October, shortly before Ardern became prime minister, 2017 Tiger Webb, a journalist working for Australia’s ABC Radio, phoned the New Zealand parliament to ask how he should pronounce her name.
After being transferred to the Labour Party offices Webb, to his great surprise, found himself speaking to Ardern herself, who explained her name is pronounced “ah-durn.”
Describing the incident to the New Zealand Herald, Ardern later said: “It was funny. I was in a meeting and my desk phone started to ring and it doesn’t ring much so I went over and I saw it was an international number and I just picked up.”
Interrupted Live on Air by Earthquake
On 24 May 2020 Ardern was being interviewed by AM Show presenter Ryan Bridge when she was interrupted by an earthquake.
As the room began shaking the PM looked briefly shocked, but quickly regained her composure. She said: “We’re just having a bit of an earthquake here Ryan, quite a decent shake here, if you see things moving behind me.”
She later told the presenter the earthquake had stopped, and “we’re fine.”
A 5.6 magnitude earthquake had struck about 90 miles north of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, and was felt across the country.
In November 2022 Ardern shot down a journalist who asked whether she had met 37-year-old Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin “just because” of their similar age.
Addressing Ardern, who was holding a joint press conference with Marin, a New Zealand journalist asked: “A lot of people will be wondering, are you two meeting just because you’re similar in age and, you know, got a lot of common stuff there. Or can Kiwis actually expect to see more deals down the line between the two countries?”
She replied: “My first question is I wonder whether or not anyone ever asked Barack Obama and [ex-New Zealand Prime Minister] John Key and if they met because they were of similar age?
“We of course have a higher proportion of men in politics. It’s reality. But because two women meet, it’s not simply because of their gender.”
Caught Calling Opposition Leader an “Arrogant P****”
In December 2022 Ardern was forced to apologize, after she was caught on mic describing an opposition leader as an “arrogant p****” in parliament.
David Seymour, who leads the minor Libertarian Party, asked Ardern to “give an example of her making a mistake, apologizing for it properly, and fixing it.”
In response she muttered “such an arrogant p****,” but this was picked up on mic and the clip widely shared across the world.